Today we have Fleur McDonald with us on our blog! Fleur is an Australian fiction writer who writes about love, life and family in Outback Australia. Her latest book is Blue Skies.
Well, Blue Skies started from a conversation I was having with a friend about the strange weather events Esperance had been having. We were dreaming up a story line and were sure that we could include them in it somehow! My friends’ house had been flooded in the 60’s and a flood was the perfect weather event we were looking for.
We also talked about things that fascinated us, like twins, family history and so forth. Finally we nutted out the story line and the Blue Skies first draft, started!
Castle Plaza Bookshop:How long will it take to set up a book?
Well, once I’ve got the basic plot worked out, I often don’t do much except write notes, for about the first six months. I really like to think a lot about the plot, characters and get everything straight in my mind. Once I’ve done that, I know I can start writing and it usually only takes me about six months to get the first draft down. Then there’s a bit of a re-read, edit and it’s off to the publishers. When I finish a chapter, I’m usually happy with – I don’t change much, so unless something changes dramatically further on in the book, I don’t have a lot of rewriting to do.
Castle Plaza Bookshop: Can you explain why you chose this theme for your book?
Friendship, loyalty and overcoming obstacles are the Australian way. I think these qualities are exacerbated in the country, because we are isolated and sometimes don’t see people from day to day. It’s what I live; it’s what I know and what I’ve experienced, so that’s why I write about rural based areas.
Castle Plaza Bookshop:Which character was the hardest to write? Which one was the easiest? Are any of your characters based on people you know or purely imaginative?
Actually the main character, Amanda, was hardest to write. She didn’t always do what I wanted her to and there was times that she came across as too hard, too bitchy and self centred and not the person my publisher wanted her to be. Softening her took sometime, because I wasn’t completely sure of what Louise wanted and because I felt she needed to grow throughout the book. It was her journey. I was also encouraged, by Louise, to write this book, with only one point of view, it made it difficult when I wanted to bring someone else’s point of view in and take the spotlight off her for a while!
I think the twins were easiest – they were fun, didn’t have a lot of responsibility and just cruised their way through!
None of my characters are based on people I know – that’s the quickest way to get into trouble! However I have taken traits that I’ve observed in some people.
Castle Plaza Bookshop: What did you do before you became a published author?
Well I was and still am a farmer and a mum! My writing still takes a back seat thing to the rest of my real life!
Castle Plaza Bookshop: What led you into a writing career?
I fell into it really! Well, in saying that, I’ve always written short stories, poems and at boarding school I was a compulsive letter writer. I also come from a long line of story tellers – my dads’ stories are folk law, around our kitchen table!
My Nana seeded imagination in me, with her wild tales of the outback, but none of them were ever written down; they were told out loud.
So I think my family had a huge part to do with it as well as being blessed with the world’s most overactive imagination!
Castle Plaza Bookshop: What excites you about writing?
Oh, everything! The fact that I get to create characters that become my friends, mix their lives up with dramas and good times and fix it all in the end!
I love the escapism it creates in my life – if we’re having a bad season, it’s nice to be able to make it rain in the books – if it’s cold and rainy outside, it’s nice to be able to lock myself in the office, drink hot cups of hot chocolate and write.
I also love that it’s completely free-flowing. I don’t have to conform to anything. I trained as a singer for a while, but that was never going to work because I had sing the way the music had been written. I don’t obey “the rules” very well and writing gives me freedom.
Castle Plaza Bookshop:How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?
Well I used to feel sick every time I read one. These days, even though I still feel a bit sad that I haven’t managed to entertain someone, the way I would have like to, I just look at it and shrug. It’s one persons point of view and to that one person, I may have had ten people comment on my website or Facebook that they have enjoyed it.
Castle Plaza Bookshop:While writing, do you eat, drink or so anything special to get the mojo flowing? Like sports people wearing lucky socks etc..
I need to get off the internet! That’s the first thing! Once I’ve made the break, I like to have a coffee beside me and listen to music.
Castle Plaza Bookshop:What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Believing in yourself. It’s so difficult starting a new book – the blank computer screen can be so daunting. How on earth can I fill it with 120,000 words? It’s something I still struggle with but I have a wonderful supportive editor and publisher, who encourage me, every time I ring having a ‘meltdown I-can’t-do-this’ moment!
Castle Plaza Bookshop: Do you think that fiction brings something to peoples lives?
Oh yes! I think it goes back to the escapism I talked about in my writing. Fiction takes you to another world, time, place. Through that book, you experience something that you may not experience (hopefully never, in the case of all the murder mysteries I like to read!) it’s a break away from the monotony of real life. Hopefully you’ll fall in love and become friends with the characters and be sad when you finally close the book.
Castle Plaza Bookshop:If you could invite 3 famous people (living, dead, fictional) to a dinner party who would they be and why?
Princess Diana. I’ve always been fascinated with her and her wedding gown is the reason I had a 3m long train on my wedding dress!
Sara Storer. I love music, especially hers. It would be awesome!
Michael Connelly and Patricia Cornwell. These two authors and their books, have held me captivated over many years. They would have to be my favourites!